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Biden says China's economic woes make Taiwan attack less likely

Biden argues economically weakened China has less capacity to invade Taiwan than before

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sept. 10, 2023. (Reuters photo)

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sept. 10, 2023. (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Joe Biden on Sunday (Sept. 10) said that China's economic woes would not push it into invading Taiwan and claimed it would instead make such an attack less likely.

During a press briefing in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday, Biden said that the U.S. has the "strongest economy in the world" and said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) "has his hands full right now" with China's economic situation. He denied seeking to decouple from China but emphasized that the U.S. would not aid in its military expansion.

A reporter asked Biden whether he believed the downturn in China's economy could disrupt the world economy or cause China to be "more aggressive defensively, including with Taiwan." Biden said China is experiencing economic difficulties due to a variety of factors tied to the slowdown in the global economy and Beijing's own policies.

He said that he does not believe that these economic issues will prompt China to invade Taiwan. "And matter of fact, the opposite — it probably doesn't have — the same capacity that it had before," said Biden.

The president then stressed that his administration is not seeking to "hurt China." He expressed the belief that the world benefits from a strong Chinese economy, on the condition that "China does well by the international rules."

Biden pointed out that China is facing serious economic issues, especially in real estate. He said he could not predict whether the measures Beijing is taking to address such problems will be effective but emphasized that the U.S. is not seeking to decouple from China.

He then laid out ways in which his administration would seek to blunt China's military buildup. Biden said the U.S. would not sell to China items that would bolster its nuclear weapons program or enable Beijing to "engage in defense activities that are contrary to what is viewed as most people would think was a positive development in the region."

Biden then reiterated, "But we're not trying to hurt China."

When asked whether Ukraine is emerging as a wedge issue with the Global South, Biden said that it was specifically a wedge issue with Russia and China. He then mentioned that he spoke to Xi's "number-two person," Chinese Premier Li Qiang (李強), at the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier that day.

Biden said that he was not concerned that he did not speak directly with Xi and said that:

"He has his hands full right now. He has overwhelming unemployment with his youth. One of the major economic tenets of his plan isn’t working at all right now. I’m not happy for that. But it’s not working."

He described China's economy as being in a state of crisis but denied that the relationship between the U.S. and China had also reached a crisis stage.